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Khashoggi case not hemorrhaging Neom project, says Saudi finance minister

Investments always go two ways, the minister stressed
Turkish police outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
Turkish police outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul
© AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

RIYADH, December 28. /TASS/. The scandal surrounding the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not caused investors to jump ship from the Neom project, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan told TASS. He commented on a report by The Financial Times saying that the crisis caused by the murder jeopardizes the Kingdom’s ability to attract financing from Western investors for Saudi projects, including the Neom mega project, which is part of the Vision 2030 transformation plan unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the autumn of 2017.

"I prefer to talk about facts. Show me actual data that investments were pulled out, then we can talk <...>. Investments always go two ways: people come and people go. What did we lose? I don't think we lost anything significant," the minister said answering a question asked by TASS on whether western investors started pulling money out of the Neom project after the Khashoggi killing.

Khashoggi, known for his criticism of Saudi Arabia's policies, left his home country and moved to the United States in 2017. He worked for The Washington Post, analyzing the situation in Saudi Arabia and the country’s foreign policy. On October 20, Saudi authorities announced that the journalist died in a fight in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The international community condemned Khashoggi’s murder and called for a transparent investigation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the murder had been carefully planned.

"Every Saudi is deeply-deeply sad [about what happened with Jamal Khashoggi]. Government officials, normal people, young and old will tell you, that we are very very sad," the minister emphasized.

He added that the Neom project is on track, and welcomed visits to Neom and other mega projects next December.

Saudi Arabia announced the plan to construct a megacity named Neom with investment potential of over $500 bln at the end of October 2017. The new city will be built in the country’s northern part on a total area of 26,500 square kilometers and will extend along the coast of the Red Sea and the Aqaba Gulf along the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. The project’s implementation is part of a strategic plan for the development of the Kingdom’s ‘Vision-2030’ covering a number of sectors, including energy, water resources, biotechnologies, food industry, digital technologies, and media.